New Orleans Mardi Gras, which in French means Fat Tuesday, is officially the day before Ash Wednesday also commonly referred to as Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day. New Orleans Mardi Gras, now a weeklong celebration can occur anytime between February 3rd and March 9th, depending on when Easter is held that particular year.
New Orleans Mardi Gras, much more than the Masks, Music, and Mayhem
It's an exercise meant to unite different culture coming together to celebrate the things that make them unique. The common theme is to have fun and have a great time.
Ancient Romans celebrated the Lupercalia, a circus like festival in mid February unlike the New Orleans Mardi Gras you are familiar with today. After Rome embraced Christianity, the early Church fathers decided to incorporate certain aspects of pagan rituals into the new faith. Carnival became a period of abandon and merriment that preceded the penance of Lent, thus keeping the ancient system alive.
Mardi Gras had been celebrated way back to middle ages in Paris, where it was a major holiday. However, it came to America in 1699 with the French explorer Iberville. Interestingly, the first Mardi Gras in North America was not celebrated under American Rule but probably under French rule.
Iberville sailed into the Gulf of Mexico, from where he launched an expedition up the Mississippi River. On March 3rd 1699, Iberville had set up a camp on the west bank of the river about 60 miles south of where New Orleans is today. Mardi Gras were being celebrated in France on that day. Thus, Iberville named the site Point du Mardi Gras to commemorate this important day.
Celebrating Madri Gras
Mardi Gras is widely celebrated in the form of carnival in most parts of Europe, Latin America and in the Carribean Islands. Venice in Italy, Mazatlan in Mexico, New Orleans, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador da Bahia, are some of the places that enjoys celebrating Mardi Gras to the fullest.
King Cake is one of the most delicious and culturally significant items that have been associated with Mardi Gras celebrations from the very beginning. King Cakes are available in all sorts of colors like purple green and gold with flavored fillings such as cream cheese, strawberry, and apple in an oblong or oval shaped cinnamon dough cake, glazed with frosting and sprinkled with colored sugar.
If it's a King cake, it has to be special - besides taste it has loads of fun simply limited to its taste. Hidden on the underside (after baking) of each King Cake is a small plastic figurine in the shape of a baby. Whoever finds the baby is officially the King or Queen of the party and gets the honor of supplying the next King Cake or throwing the next Mardi Gras Party.
Marching bands move on the streets playing jazz music. Bunnies, painted clowns, masked lions, cross-dressing beauty pageants is a common spectacle in the streets of New Orleans. Masked balls and colorful parades drive millions of fun seekers. Strange dress and strange performance with a full dose of entertainment makes the New Orleans Madri Gras celebration so unique.
You just cannot resist yourself from being crazy in the charged environment of Mardi Gras.